Back from injury, Ching bids for World Cup team
Brian Ching has little time to prove he's fit. Sidelined since straining his left hamstring in the Houston Dynamo's home opener on April 1, he's set to return just ahead of next week's deadline for U.S. coach Bob Bradley to submit his preliminary World Cup roster.
``I've played with him over the past three years now. He knows what I'm capable of,'' Ching said. ``I think he'll understand five weeks off, you need to build your way back into it. But there is definitely an urgency to get out there and playing well.''
Ching hurt his left calf during his recovery but said Tuesday there's a chance he'll return in Wednesday night's game against FC Dallas. Ching and coach Dominic Kinnear say he's more likely to return on Saturday at Chivas USA.
The 31-year-old forward, a member of the U.S. national team since 2003, desperately wants to make his second straight World Cup roster. Teams must submit 30-man rosters to FIFA next Tuesday, with 23-man rosters due June 1. The U.S. can make substitutions up until 24 hours before its June 12 opener against England.
``I try not to focus on the World Cup,'' Ching said. ``Do I think about it? Yeah. Is there pressure to get back on the field before he has to make his decision? Yeah. At this point, I'm not going to compromise getting injured again with rushing back onto the field.''
Whether he's chosen or not, Ching says he may be finished with international soccer after the World Cup. He says he'll make that decision later this year.
``I think there's a good chance I might hang up my boots from international soccer after the World Cup. I think that will be my decision,'' he said. ``I will be 36 for the next World Cup. Honestly, if I look at myself, do I think I can be on a World Cup team when I'm 36? I don't think so. It's something on my mind, but it might help prolong my career.''
Ching has 11 goals in 44 appearances with the U.S. team since 2003. He appeared in 11 games, including 10 starts for the U.S team last year, helping the Americans to a second-place finish in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Ching didn't get into a match at the 2006 World Cup as the United States was eliminated in the first round with losses to the Czech Republic and Ghana around a tie with Italy.
Taking the field in a World Cup game is about the last goal in soccer he has yet to reach.
``It's every soccer player's dream to represent their country in the World Cup,'' he said. ``It was a huge disappointment, not being able to play in the last one, when you're so close. I positioned myself well. I just need to get back fit and hopefully, I'll get to experience that again.''
If Ching isn't healthy, it could open an opportunity for Colorado's Conor Casey as a target forward. Los Angeles' Edson Buddle and Puebla's Herculez Gomez also have put themselves into contention for the U.S. roster with hot springs.
When healthy, Ching appears to be a favorite to join Hull's Jozy Altidore on the U.S. roster.
Ching wore a protective sleeve on his calf as he went through Tuesday's hour-long team workout, and said he felt no pain in his calf or hamstring. He took shots with his left foot late in the session and did about 15 minutes of conditioning after the team drills were completed.
``Everything felt great. I had no issues with the shots, I didn't feel anything,'' Ching said. ``I felt good, just a little bit rusty. Hopefully, over the course of this week, I can get back into form.''